West Wing Actor Richard Schiff Warns 'You Don't Want This' After COVID-19 Hospitalization

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West Wing Actor Richard Schiff Warns 'You Don't Want This' After COVID-19 Hospitalization 1

Richard Schiff choked up while giving a warning to others following his recent hospitalization with the coronavirus disease COVID-19.

“It’s scarier than you’ve read and scarier than you’ve heard,” the 65-year-old actor told MSNBC earlier this week, adding, “You don’t want this.”

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The West Wing alum and his actress wife, Sheila Kelley, both tested positive for the respiratory illness on Nov. 3 while in Vancouver, British Columbia, filming the fourth season of the ABC medical drama The Good Doctor.

For 13 days, Schiff says, he tried to fight off COVID-19 on his own before heading to Vancouver General Hospital for treatment.

He fought off tears while telling MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell (a West Wing alum himself) that “the conversation that I had to have with Sheila because it didn’t look good for a day or two is a conversation you don’t want to have with anyone ever.”

“I can’t stress enough,” the Emmy Award-winning actor said. “This thing will debilitate you.”

RELATED: Sweden’s Princess Sofia and Prince Carl Philip Test Positive for COVID After Gathering at Royal Funeral

Schiff was given supplemental oxygen while hospitalized and now “all of my energy is gone.” But he said that his strength and muscle atrophy were “coming back, ever so slowly.”

“It gets into your system and it feels like wherever you think you can get a breath in, it’s going to go there and that’s where the cough is going to go,” he said. “It wants to stop you from breathing.”

Schiff said he didn’t contract the virus on the set of his show and that he and Kelley, an L.A. Law star who also appears on The Good Doctor, were both “very vigilant” about their safety.

Kelley, 59, initially said on Instagram that she and her husband were quarantining at their home after testing positive earlier this month, adding then that the virus was a “slippery sucker.”

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“One minute you feel almost fine and the next you can’t catch your breath,” she said. “Symptoms change radically daily even hourly.”

RELATED: Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Season 11 Filming Suspended Due to COVID Concerns

More than 61.3 million people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus worldwide, according to a New York Times tracker.

In the U.S., at least 13 million have tested positive while at least 263,939 people across the country have died as of Friday afternoon.

On MSNBC, Schiff praised the Canadian healthcare system for helping him recover while also adding that his former West Wing costars “made a difference” as he recovered by offering “such humor and such support.”

“I’m so thankful and so grateful for that,” he said.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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